Every now and then a patient comes in and when I ask what they want from treatment they answer some variant of "I've got bad posture" "I've got a hump" "fix my text neck" etc, or worse, "I've seen this video online, where they take this boy and straighten him out". I am going to confess now. I think I came to osteopathy based on a false belief. The mother of a boy in my year at school, who lived in the same road as me, walked with a terrible stoop and one day that stoop was gone. I think I asked my mother what had happened and my Mum said thought she had been to the osteopath. I was impressed...but with hindsight, I think my Mum was guessing (they weren't particularly friends). I suspect she had surgery and a rod put in to correct a very severe kyphosis. The thing is that a deformity (I tried to think of another word, but this was an extreme variation from the norm and will have drastically affected her quality of life) like that held for years will have changed the shape of the structures - caused the vertebrae to become wedge shaped, shortened muscles ligaments etc at the front and lengthened them at the back - even if the initial injury was reversable at the time. That is why the surgery is not just a release but a rod is needed to hold the back in position.
By the same token, even if we can release tight tissues, stuck joints etc holding something in a sub-optimal position without surgery, the stretched ligaments and lengthened muscles on the outside of the curve aren't going to ping back with magical elasticity. Something that has built up over years will take time and concerted effort to correct and indeed it may only be reasonable to manage it rather than completely reverse it.
If this all sounds very negative, it isn't! We can usually correct things that have happened recently and we can often improve older injuries to improve function and reduce pain. Osteopathy can also play a part in significant postural change but as a part of a wider program, over time. I keep banging on about Pilates because it helps you to strengthen your postural muscles, including reinvigorating tone that has been lost by being stretched over time. I am still slowly correcting my own assymetries and imbalances, using osteopathy to periodically release tightened and stuck tissues and joints and to integrate change, as well as Pilates, swimming and strength training to build new tone
Oh and by the way, if you've seen those videos, no I don't do the osteopathy with a plank and hammer, or one yank on a chin strap
Damian is the principal osteopath at Vauxhall Village Osteopathy and Oval Osteopathy